Blogger: Rachel Kent
I won’t claim this for every agent, but I know that Books & Such agents try very hard to communicate well with our clients and to respond to emails in an efficient way. We care deeply about the author-agent relationship, and we want everything to run smoothly, but sometimes our weeks are hijacke,d and plans have to change.
This week has been a crazy week for me and for some authors too. Three crises (one major) have occurred that have affected my clients, and I’ve been working hard to deal with each one as it has come my way. This is the job of an agent. I need to help my clients to stay safe through the ups and downs of this publishing roller coaster. (I guess I’m the lap bar on the roller coaster car.) But when these crisis moments occur, they mess up an agent’s typical work week schedule.
The crisis has to be responded to first–so responding to emails gets pushed aside, reading query letters and proposals is put on the back burner, and submitting client proposals to publishing houses is delayed as well. My email inbox is out of control right now. I’ve read the emails to be sure I’m not missing another possible crisis, but things that aren’t urgent are going to have to wait until next week.
Some of my clients might feel like I’m ignoring them, but I’m not. Unfortunately, I have to prioritize my time to deal with the most sensitive issues first. I often wish I had endless time and energy!
If you ever do feel like you’re being ignored by your agent or if some relationship in your publishing career seems to be getting sticky–I suggest you give the person in question the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best intentions and schedule a phone call to catch up and reconnect. This is true for author-agent relationships, author-author relationships, author-editor relationships and so on. If you are agented and you’re having trouble with your editor or another writer, please check in with your agent about the problem as well.
If you continue to receive no response from your emails to your agent, pick up the phone and call. Email isn’t 100% reliable, and a phone call is a great way to be sure that your agent is aware that the two of you need to talk. I prefer scheduled calls so my work flow isn’t constantly interrupted, but if a client has been emailing me asking to set up a phone call and I haven’t responded, I definitely want to receive a call.
Sometimes a relationship really is broken and needs to be fixed or ended, but I bet most of the time communication just needs to be reestablished and things will be smooth again.
When you are hit with a crisis situation what do you do?
What form of communication are you most comfortable with? Do you ever avoid email or phone because you don’t enjoy communicating that way?
Personally, I wish all of my business communication could be done in person with coffee in hand, but it hardly ever works that way!
When it seems like your literary agent is ignoring you… via agent @rachellkent Click to tweet.
“I am the lap bar on the publishing roller coaster car,” says literary agent @rachellkent. Click to tweet.
Reestablishing communication is often all a struggling relationship needs to heal. via @rachellkent Click to tweet.